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iHustle: S.F. Tech at South by Southwest 

Wednesday, Mar 13 2013
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Page 4 of 4

Upstairs at the Old School Bar & Grill, members of the Koozoo team are having a few Lone Stars. At the top of the stairs, greeters hand out Koozoo kazoos and other swag. People who download the app can get free Lone Stars by showing the bartender their phones. There are enough cases in here to give every conference attendee a beer.

Sechrist is outside chatting up a couple of locals. He says last night he stayed in to work on his Accelerator pitch. Other members of the team are either going to get some sleep before investors' parties later in the evening or going out to get a bite. Sechrist and Sullivan, however, are taking it all in. Sechrist is making plans with an old colleague from his days at Salesforce.com to go to a party later on. He's happy.

As Sullivan surveys the crowd, it hits him. "The beauty of South by Southwest is the coincidence and chance meetings," he says. "You really can't overplan or else you might miss out on some unseen opportunity." The party, though small, brims with excitement. It's their first company party in Austin. It's not Monday yet. They will all drink to that.

Meanwhile, a couple of blocks away from the Austin Convention Center, The Palm Door is packed. It's 6:36 p.m. at "The Awesomest Journalism Party. Ever. III" and is has already run out of white wine. Plates are loaded with brisket sliders, veggies, and salad. Drink tickets are being redeemed for Shiner Bocks and Amstel Lights. People who saved room for dessert are eating mint chip waffles with marshmallow sauce. The supply is rapidly dwindling though.

The photo booth in the center of the room is generating some traffic while the various other news-oriented tech start-ups have installations of their own. At a cocktail table sit those T-shirts Singel had been trying to figure out how to hand out. Now, he's surrounded. One person after another approaches. Handshakes, hugs, and business cards all coming at him. Wonder how many new Twitter followers Contextly has gained?

People are thrilled for Singel and his platform. They ask questions about Contextly and get answers which sound like what he might say during his two minutes onstage at Accelerator on Monday -- when the tech beauty pageant begins, and after which a quarter of the contestants will take the Nerd Bird back to the Bay Area, win or lose, with game-changing opportunities or a return to the drawing board. Right now, for Singel, the beer-bottle presentation is working. Even to the inebriated, Singel is able to field a drunken line of questioning with grace.

His journalistic background has given him credibility in this room. His platform is geared to the profession he left behind. To have legacy media switch over to Contextly would be a dream. Their rich archives are a gold mine of information. If it could only be harnessed, society would be a better place — where one can easily find relevant stories, available apartments, or an eatery without a damn wait.

As the party winds down, Singel has handed out almost all his shirts. Now grazers are coming by to snatch up any free swag they can get their hands on. Before closing up shop, though, he gets another person asking about his platform. She's from The Wall Street Journal.

About The Author

Ian Joulain

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